The New York Times interviewed Colum McCann about what and who he’s reading, and if you’re looking for a book recommendation this piece is full of them. For more from McCann, be sure to check out his Year in Reading, our review of his novel TransAtlantic, and this reading of his soccer poem.
I know, I know – another piece about “the canon.” This one, however, is sure to elicit a response one way or another. A sampling: “There are few (arguably no) female poets writing in Chaucer’s time who rival Chaucer in wit, transgressiveness, texture, or psychological insight. The lack of equal opportunity was a tremendous injustice stemming from oppressive social norms, but we can’t reverse it by willing brilliant female wordsmiths into the past. Same goes for people of color in Wordsworth’s day, or openly queer people in Pope’s, or …”
“In creative writing, I teach that characters arise out of our need for them. By now, the person I created in New York was the only one I wanted to be. …Eight years after reaching the end of myself, I was on borrowed time. Whether it was in a plane or a coffin, I knew I had to get out of Jamaica.” Marlon James, author of The Book of Night Women, which once gave me so much trouble, and whose novel A Brief History of Seven Killings the Book Report covered here, writes for the New York Times Magazine about leaving Jamaica to find himself in Minnesota.
“I think what I would really most like to write about is palm trees and bougainvillea and hummingbirds. I would like to go into the desert and write about salamanders and the Grand Canyon, but history keeps rupturing my experience because politics are everywhere.” National Book Award winner Robin Coste Lewis on overcoming brain damage and becoming a poet. Pair with Andrew Kay’s Millions essay on the power of poetry.
In 1977-1978, a public access TV show called Public Access Poetry featured leading poets from across the country (Ted Berrigan, Ron Padgett, Eileen Myles, John Yau, Brad Gooch). Thirty-one episodes are now online, but the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s is seeking funding to post the remaining fifteen reels.
“This question of presence seems crucial to Tillman’s project. Her position in a text is tricky—she operates both inside and outside of it, which allows her to thwart distanced critical authority and also perform the aesthetic slippages she admires in others’ work.” On Lynne Tillman’s new story collection.